NBHC recommendations on improving primary health services

26 June 2018

Clarifying who would be responsible for the overall planning, funding and management of primary health services serves as the backdrop for the latest recommendation to the Minister of Health by the New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC). In the absence of an entity with overall responsibility for Primary Health services the NBHC recommends an accountability framework which identifies such an entity and mandates quality service targets which are required to measure performance and provide for transparent reporting to the public.

An accountability framework defines responsibilities and would contain a collection of performance targets that would be essential to measure the quality of Primary Health services. The recommendation calls for the accountability framework to be developed by the Department of Health and the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), with the goal of having RHAs become the responsible entities for primary health services and the ongoing management of the framework.

“An accountability framework would set the base rules for clarifying RHA responsibilities and required support from the Department of Health,” said Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the NBHC, “With these targets, and someone responsible overall for Primary Health services, New Brunswickers and system stakeholders would be able to recognize improvement when it happens and ask tough questions when it doesn’t.”

The NBHC has spent the last twelve months consulting with various stakeholders, and revisiting lessons learned from its work, to generate discussion about the priority areas for recommendations and how best to describe them.  While New Brunswick has made many efforts to make Primary health services a priority area for improvement, the wide variability in health service quality, identified in NBHC data, spoke to the need for clarifying responsibility to ensure equitable access to positive outcomes for all New Brunswickers.

“By taking a lead on Primary Health services the RHAs would benefit in their overall planning and service delivery,” said Robichaud, “After working with the Department of Health to develop the accountability framework and select results, the RHAs would be able to work with Primary Health providers like family doctors and nurse practitioners to develop strategies for improvement.”

The need for common methods to measure primary health human resources, to better facilitate planning and allocation of resources that match with community needs, was included as part of the recommendation. The recommendation was presented to the Minister of Health on May 31st at the NBHC offices. Beginning with the 2017-18 recommendation, the NBHC will be releasing recommendations annually, as well as providing annual reporting on the status of its prior recommendations.

The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance and population health, and that engages citizens in the improvement of health service quality.